Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Tips for Saving While Eating in Walt Disney World

     While there are many many ways to be smart and save money at Walt Disney World, some of the costs are just large. Hotels, in general, are expensive. Park tickets are the base of your spending, and are always expensive. Likewise, eating in Walt Disney World is expensive. The key things to keep in mind while planning how you will eat while on your vacation are as follows:

  • Eat at places that maximize the experience you have, and your value for the dollar spent. Disney World dining is incredible, if you do your homework and spend in the right places. Read before you go!
  • Don't spend extra money on food you can get anywhere, and food that will not give you the truly cherish-able experience that Disney World should be.

My five tips for dining at the World center around these two themes. In general, you have to start by facing the fact that it will cost money to go to Walt Disney World, and that your dining budget is part of the money you save for your experience. Once you have that idea down, here is my advice:
  1. Bring food! There are grocery stores near Walt Disney World. No one is stopping you from taking a quick trip to these places, stocking up on bars and shakes and coffee and even sandwiches. Disney will never remind you of this, but you can and should eat your own food for several of your meals. I recommend one special breakfast brunch for your trip, and then eating your own breakfast in the room for the rest of the time. You could save hundreds of dollars! In addition, Disney does not mind you bringing food into their parks. Replace several of your meals out on adventures with your own food! You will be healthier, thinner, and you don't have to buy all of your meals at Disney prices (which are often interstellar). 
  2. Tables in Wonderland is Disney's dining membership club.... sort of. I say "club" because it is only available to annual passholders, Florida residents, and Disney Vacation Club members. For annual passholders, the card is $100. This card is usable at almost any restaurant on property, and saves you 20% on all dining, including alcohol. So, if you plan on spending $500 on food for your family (which you probably should bet on), you will save money with this card. You could save hundreds of dollars. More details about this card here
  3. Disney Dining Plan... for Free? This one is a littler harder to come by, but could save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Most years, around September, Disney offers "free dining" to those staying at select Deluxe Resorts on property. This plan, at its most basic level, allows you to enjoy one snack, one counter service meal, and one sit-down experience per day. If you receive this plan for your stay, you could very very easily purchase no food on your vacation, and dine very well. With your dining points, you can enjoy some of Disney's finest restaurants for free.
  4. Share Your Food. So, assume you have either purchased or received for free the Disney Dining Plan. You now have one "point" per day to use on sit-down eating. One way to truly maximize this plan is to share. You will find that the portions of Disney dining are often... immense. You can go to many restaurants on property, order off of the set menu, and be perfectly satisfied with half of the food you receive. You can order the food for one person, thus only spending one "point". There are a few disclaimers I should put here. While Disney does allow this, they will never encourage it. You will also have to check beforehand to see which places will serve you enough food for two people. Additionally, you cannot use this trick at buffet-style venues, which are often some of the best on property. lastly, I have to say that the Disney dining plan is far too much food for me, and I do not eat lightly!
  5. Spend Little, Experience it all. Fifth and finally, my advice would be to maximize your dollar by buying small amounts of food at the most expensive places. For example, you and your date could go to the California Grill (pictured above), watch the fireworks, and have an unbelievable night, for only the cost of two glasses of wine and a plate of sushi. This could run you as little as $35, and could be an unforgettable night. You could then go back to your hotel, and buy a sandwich in the gift shop, or share a salad next to the pool. You don't have to spend all of your dining money at the restaurant to have the experience. And that experience is really what the dining is about. 
     I hope these are helpful tips! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, and I will do the best I can to answer. 

Thank you sincerely for reading, 


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